His eyes brimming with frustration, my eighteen-year-old son slammed his hand down on the counter. “I don’t have time to learn,” he exclaimed, “I have to get this done!”
I stared at him for a moment from across the kitchen, and then erupted with laughter, trying to reconcile the irony of my smarty-pants, high school salutatorian turned struggling first-year engineering student son, telling me he doesn’t have time to learn.In college. Ridiculous, right? How do you go to college and not have time to learn? Isn’t that the whole purpose of college?
Have you ever felt that way, spiritually? Like you don’t have time to study or rest or meditate or serve because all the things you have to do get in the way? We say we want to spend more time in the Word, to grow, to go deeper. We say we want to create white space in our lives, to savor and enjoy, and to stop running, but somehow we fall prey to what Charles Hummel called “The Tyranny of the Urgent,” where what’s important is repeatedly yielded to what is immediate, the outcome being a perpetual cycle of busyness, while at the same time “getting nothing done.”
Sadly, at no time is this phenomenon more noticeable in my own life than during Advent. Are you kidding?I don’t have time to sit around and contemplate the coming King; Christmas is in sixty-three days!
If that isn’t as ridiculous as not having time to learn in college, I honestly don’t know what is.
Time to Learn, Time to Rest
Oh, reader, how I want something different this year. I need something different this year. Certainly it’s not by chance that the early Church built into its calendar a time of prolonged, quiet contemplation in the weeks before its two most joyous celebrations, commemorations of our Savior’s birth, death, and resurrection. The fact that we are prone to be people of the outcome rather than people of the process was apparently clear back in 400 A.D.
This Advent, I want to be a person of the process.
Last weekend I went to my favorite bookstore, but instead of buying a book (because, let’s face it—I have a giant “to-read” pile already), I opted for a magazine. Forgive me for waxing poetic here about a bound stack of semi-recycled paper, but I have to admit that I bought it because it was . . . lovely. Gorgeous stock, clean typeface, just the right proportion of photos and print, and oh, the white space. I held in my hands a beautiful journal, but more than that, it served as a metaphor for the Advent I long for this year—one of peace, rest, deep study, and pleasant meditation. It’s going to be busy; there’s no changing that, but this year, I choose to be a woman of the process.
Your Invitation to Advent Peace
This Advent, will you join me? Can we stop chasing the calendar and the clock and seek out quiet waters instead? Let’s not forsake the race for the finish line. Let’s seek and savor the risen Christ as we await the commemoration of His birth.
But how? We’re tossed to and fro by our schedules. We are grieved by family challenges. We are exhausted, run-ragged. We thirst for droplets of peace in an ever-arid landscape.
Tucked into Psalm 107 are stories of God gathering in His redeemed from the corners of the earth, plucking them out of tumult, and setting them down in peace. Would you pray with me, using verses 23–32 as a framework, that this would be a season of contemplation, of study, of service, of peace?
Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the LORD, his wondrous works in the deep. (vv. 23–24)
Father, we, your women, are busy day and night. We are serving, working, parenting, and loving, as you have created us to do. We see your hand in creation, in our lives, and in the deep mysteries that are reserved but for your understanding.
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight. (vv. 25–26)
We know, Lord, that this joyous season will not be free from trials, and further, that those trials are ordained by your gracious, just, and merciful hand. But Father, though we know that both the heights and the depths are from you, we confess that, like those who do not know your goodness, we are prone to become afraid.
They reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. (vv. 27–28)
Oh Father, like the drunkard, we reel and stagger through our days. We enslave ourselves to our schedules and our desires, running in tangled circles, until to our knees we fall.
And yet, Lord, we cry out to you. And again, Lord, you deliver us.
He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. (vv. 29–30)
For every storm stilled, Lord, we thank you. For every moment to rest in your goodness, to grow in your grace, we praise you. Father, we yearn to know you more this season. Draw us to the still waters of your Word. May your lap be our haven as we meet you in prayer.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders. (vv. 31–32)
We praise you, oh Lord, knowing that you can do all of this—exceedingly and abundantly, through your Son Jesus Christ! May we rest in Him, proclaim Him, and live faithfully for Him this Advent and always.
In His precious and holy name,